“He knew that a hero shouldn’t fear death, but where was the glory in dying for his country and never knowing it.”
I first came across Dean Hughes’s Soldier Boys as a student teacher when my host teacher selected it for a book club that met before school once a week. I knew as soon as I read the last page that this provocative title would be among the books I chose to teach in my own classroom. As I expected, it quickly became a class favorite with students fondly recalling the time in my class we read that World War II novel. The last time I taught the book I was expecting my now twelve-year-old daughter, so I was thrilled when she decided to read it for herself. This book opened the door to her love of historical fiction, and she has since gone on to devour every young adult novel she can find on World War II, the Holocaust, and other major historical events.
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“I like colorful tales with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings. But any story will do.”
It’s not unusual for me to choose a book for the kids and me to read based on the cover. Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan is no exception. The cover illustration of a contemplative gorilla sitting with his back to a grinning baby elephant glancing admirably at his large friend stood out from among the dozens of other books featured on the display of my local bookstore. The gold medallion placed prominently in the bottom left corner indicating it was a Newberry winner sealed the deal. My strategy did not disappoint.
The One and Only Ivan follows the story of Ivan, the mighty silverback gorilla, who is a resident of the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. He, along with an elephant named Stella, a poodle named Snickers, and a cast of other animals was at one time the main attraction of this once-thriving mall, but unfortunately, Ivan and his pals no longer bring in the crowds. Mall owner, Mack, desperate to renew interest in the Big Top Mall purchases a baby elephant named Ruby, whose presence transforms Ivan from contented gorilla into an artist with a mission.
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“If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless.”
My children and I picked out The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane because it was written by Kate DiCamillo. Having just read Because of Winn-Dixie and being fans of The Tale of Desperaux, we were eager to read the the next book in her catalog of excellent selections. We were not disappointed. Edward not only charms but also instructs, reminding readers that we are all a work in progress.
Edward Tulane is a china rabbit, created by Pelligrina for her granddaughter Abilene’s birthday. Edward, a beautifully dressed vision of rabbit perfection, is adored by Abilene, but Edward’s perfection ends with his appearance. He is a cold rabbit whose shallow preoccupations keep him incapable of love. Continue reading “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane Review”